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Education Leaders Weigh In On Parent Engagement, Privacy Issues

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Fully 58 percent of national education decision makers and influencers sampled in a recent survey believe that states have done a "poor" or "very poor" job at family and community engagement for school turnarounds, according to an Education Insider report released today by Whiteboard Advisors, a Washington, D.C.-based policy‚Äźoriented consulting practice. Only 8 percent said they have done a "good" job.

Every month, Education Insider conducts an anonymous survey of about 50 key education policymakers, thought leaders, and association heads to get their opinions and commentary about education issues. Senior staff from the U.S. Department of Education, White House, Congress, state chiefs, and heads of major associations and think tanks are among those polled about a variety of education topics.

On another issue involving parents, insiders were evenly split at 32 percent on whether the recently revised Family and Educational Rights Privacy Act (FERPA) laws weaken parental consent provisions. Another 36 percent said they have not followed the FERPA issue. The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) filed a lawsuit regarding revised FERPA regulations, which would allow the release of student records to third parties.

On the subject of engagement, the influencers were asked: "One of the turnaround interventions included in the ESEA [Elementary and Secondary Education Act] waivers is family and community engagement. How important is this? How good of a job implementing meaningful policies and programs have the approved states done?" In response, 66 percent said it is "important" or "very important." But they did not believe it has been well done.

Among the anonymous explanations of why they have such a low opinion of the job states have done:


  • "It's very hard to measure from the federal level how 'meaningful' family/community involvement programs are. Family and community involvement are critical elements of school turnaround, generally; but it's hard to say at this stage of waiver implementation whether these programs have been effective in Focus or Priority schools."

  • "Parental engagement is much discussed but not really wanted by the professional education class in most states."

  • "'Community engagement' as a turnaround strategy only works in movies."

The full report is available here.



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